Friday, July 13, 2018

Are military courts courts?

Followers of U.S. military justice may now be familiar with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Ortiz v. United States.
This case is about the legality of a military officer serving as a judge on both an Air Force appeals court and the Court of Military Commission Review (CMCR). The petitioner, an airman convicted of crimes in the military justice system, contends that the judge’s holding of dual offices violated a statute regulating military service, as well as the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) rejected those claims, and we granted a petition for certiorari. We hold first that this Court has jurisdiction to review decisions of the CAAF, even though it is not an Article III court. We then affirm the CAAF’s determination that the judge’s simultaneous service was lawful.
For most of us the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to hear appeals from the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces seemed firmly entrenched--don't worry--it is.  But an amicus pleading seriously questioned that jurisdiction.

Here is one of several pithy pieces on the issue from Dan Maurer, Are Military Courts Really Just Like Civilian Courts? Published on Lawfare.

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